by Wm. W. Kolacy, Editor, The Gleason Gazette

(Note: The Gleason Gazette is our quarterly family newsletter, in its 10th year of publication)

In recent years great strides have been made in the procedures of organ transplants, especially heart transplants. More people than ever before have successfully received a new heart and go on to live long and productive lives. In the United States alone there are approximately two-thousand new heart transplant recipients each year with about a 95% success rate. With each passing year immuno suppressant drugs and surgical procedures improve and that success ratio increases. It is no wonder then that so much has been written on the subject. Available to anyone who has an interest in organ transplants are medical pamphlets, reports from all the major medical magazines and books written by the heart surgeons themselves, numerous TV specials and news reports, and even most recently increased resources on the Information Superhighway: the Internet. The subject has been covered in all its different aspects:

  • what goes wrong with the heart,
  • why it can not be repaired,
  • what to expect after the operation,
  • the far reaching affects from the many drugs that are used,
  • the patient's limitations during recovery and
  • dozens of similar considerations.

The subject has been dealt with from the points of view of the entire medical community. Heart surgeons, psychologists, physiologists, psychiatrists and dietitians have given ample information to answer any medical question that might arise.

The need for heart transplantation is, even with its high rate of success, a life threatening event. And, as with any life threatening event, the spiritual aspect must be dealt with. For many this is a time of deep reflection and self discovery. Thankfully, there is a multitude of books available to console, encourage and lift the spirits of anyone faced with a life threatening situation. But seldom is there a first hand, detailed, clear minded and straight forward day by day description of a life threatening situation as told by the patient.

Jim Gleason's passage through the most captivating year in his life, from the time of his first reaction to his doctor's words, "Mr. Gleason, you don't have long with that heart," to the anniversary party in honor of his new heart's travels through a full year, is written in a warm and compassionate manner. It is not the journey into the soul of the man, though you will know Jim Gleason well by the end of his first year's travels, but rather a journey with an intelligent, disciplined and clear minded man who found himself suddenly and desperately in need of a new heart. Not one to appeal for sympathy, he has written clearly and faithfully the details of his journey with the sole intent that his experiences might help others.

A Gift from the Heart is filled with neither medical or technical terminology, rather it is the day by day happenings of a heart transplant patient. Join Jim Gleason as he shares his thoughts and experiences of apprehension, reflection, decisions and most of all memories. Walk the hospital hallways with him as he awaits word of the arrival of his new heart, as he recuperates from his surgery, as he makes dozens of new friends, as he recovers at home and finally as he rediscovers a world that he was such an integral part of. It is a short walk through one year of a man who instills optimism into his every endeavor and inspires all those fortunate enough to know him to join him on this joyful journey through life. It will be a walk that will leave you feeling reaffirmed about the spirit of life.

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